The Next Great American Band: Episode 4
But a typical old-style Battle of the Bands has an edge over this show. The bands play their own kind of music. While I love the variety of the music genres on the show, it's that very variety in genres which I think throws things off a bit.
Let me think out my thoughts here ... if a band is a rock band, they'll usually play rock songs, maybe a ballad here and there. But you rarely, if ever, see them turn bluegrass. If a band is a big band specializing in music you can dance to, I don't expect them to burst into "Hell's Bells." I don't expect 12 year-old heavy rock kiddies to perform at a Bar Mitzvah ... not even when they turn 13.
To pit a bluegrass group against an 80s style new age rock band against kiddie rockers is just odd. Most of the remaining bands do what they do very well in their own genre. I'm beginning to wonder if the show should have stuck to one genre even though I'm enjoying them all. Oh, I'll be honest ... I enjoy most of them.
Tonight was Billy Joel night and the bands only sang a cover, no original music. As expected -- or as I expected -- it was The Muggs and Rocket going home this week. Once again the bands all sat in the green room (which is really green in this case) and suffered awaiting to be called to perform. I'll present them to you in the same order as the show which is in no voting order at all.
The bands each talked about previous jobs or what they have sacrificed for their music. It turns out Franklin Bridge isn't too cool with working, they play gigs for money. I'm not surprised. From what I've read about them, they're pretty popular in the club scene in Philly.
They sang "Big Shot." Hmm ... I'm going to go into snarky mode here and declare it appropriate for the lead singer's attitude about himself. Confidence is one thing. Yes, they're talented. But I'm getting a bit irked about how smug he comes across while performing. Other than that, I thought it was a fine performance. I loved the guitar work on it, as well as the arrangement. I thought they funked it up a bit, but funk is cool.
John Rzeznik, who seems to be the Paula Abdul of this show without the dubious sobriety factor she brings to American Idol, thought the performance was amazing. I agreed more with Sheila E. She told them not to confuse the audience with cockiness. (I bet she meant the lead singer!) Other than that, she praised them. Dicko thought they exuded confidence, not cockiness. But, hey ... how seriously can I take a guy named Dicko?
Cliff Wagner and The Old #7
Yes, the bluegrass boys squeaked by another week! These guys have been living the lives of a band for many years. Cliff went through a funny bit about odd jobs he's held to help support his family.
Cliff mentioned that it was hard for them to sing a pop song when it's not really their thing. They sang "You May Be Right." No, they didn't do it quite like Billy Joel. But I found a peacefulness in the country-style in which they performed the song. I could picture close-dancing in a smoky country bar lighted by a neon Budweiser sign as it played on the jukebox.
John loved it, a rather predictable reaction for him. Sheila E called it amazing and said people would like or hate it. (I fall in the first camp.) Dicko called it sleepy and dreary. I guess outright country music isn't too big in his home country of Australia. I'm not a huge country fan, but I can appreciate songs within the genre. I'd rather watch this group do their own thing, though. Bluegrass rocks!
Denver and The Mile High Orchestra
The band members and Denver himself have sacrificed family time in their pursuit of making a living in music. Denver is missing his newborn son. Aw.
So, the big band made it through to another week! They chose a perfect song for the band -- "Tell Her About It." I thought they did an excellent job with the song. But I was also thinking something which Dicko (of all people) said before he said it. This band has to be tremendous to watch live, but I'm not sure how straight music-buying would go for them. DVD, yes ... because you can watch them.
That's where I find the excitement with the band. Their arrangements are spectacular, but they're a band I'd want to watch and not just listen. I suppose that could put a damper on record sales. But I love to watch the interaction of Denver and the musicians as they perform. That's as strong a part of what they're all about as the arrangements and vocals.
John thought they were great. Sheila E said their arrangements just flow. I already mentioned what Dicko said.
Dot Dot Dot
When this band appeared, I nailed the two booted bands of the night. Heh.
They seem to have run the gamut of jobs from white collar to teacher to fry cook, but they want to make a living with their music.
They performed Billy Joel's "Pressure." I found their version interesting to a point, but it didn't rock my world. Maybe it's because I'm too loyal to Queen and Billy Joel. That aside, I think it was one of their better performances. The lead singer wasn't running around like a crazed maniac.
John called the performance solid. Sheila E. said they were getting better. Dicko actually said it was a very good performance. I wonder if his enjoyment of it was influenced by the fact that they listened and reacted to previous criticism.
Music is their life, music is their job. They want to do nothing else.
Okay, I'm not the housewife audience which Dicko thinks will go for the band. But I admit I'm officially smitten and melting over this lead singer. Wow. They sang "She's Always a Woman." His voice was so spot on! The arrangement was perfect. I think this band is going to be the one to beat in the competition.
John came up with solid and awesome (look ... he picked up a new adjective this time around). Sheila E said beautiful and amazing. She also pondered proposing marriage.
Then came Dicko. He pointed out the misogynistic aspect of the song and called out the lead singer on it. Now, mind you, Sixwire didn't write the song and they performed it beautifully. At least Andy (lead singer) defended his choice well.
They sacrificed college to make the band a success. I can just imagine how their parents felt about that. They all still live at home and tend to work dead-end jobs.
Dang if these kids don't bring back memories of the tight pants and dance moves of circa 1966 or so! They sang "Moving Out." (Which they might do if they can make a living.) I think I liked it better than the judges for the most part. No, I wouldn't buy it. But, the lead singer definitely has a pop teen idol way about him. Although the rest of the band is a bit geeky, geeky is in. I think the band could have little girls screaming, don't you?
John said he thought they lacked urgency in it. Sheila E. said it looked like they were having fun and she liked it. Dicko said he would make a pithy remark but his writer is out on strike. He said it was sloppy.
The Clark Brothers
I think we already knew their story. They've performed all their lives, sort of like a gone country version of the Osmond Brothers with a religious aspect but not Mormon.
I feel this is the other group which is the one to watch for the win along with Sixwire. These brothers put their heart and souls into the music, no matter what song they might sing. They chose "She's Got a Way." When you listen to them, it's hard to believe that often there are only two instruments playing as the lead brother sings. And, his voice and emotion is second to none.
John thinks they're gifted and they owned the song. He thinks they're the most confident band in the competition. Sheila E. said they were outstanding and amazing. (I'm getting a bit tired of all the amazing. Get these judges a thesaurus!) Dicko mentioned the lead singer's emotional conviction in the lyrics and said they were sensational.
The Light of Doom
Not surprising, the kiddie rockers made it through to this round. What have they sacrificed for their music? Well, one left a lucrative career with Google and is selling his stock to finance the band.
Er ... no. They gave up playing baseball, hobbies, and the lead singer gave up guitar lessons to concentrate on his vocal training.
They sang "The Stranger" -- one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. It's actually a very adult song, as are many of his works. It's ... it's ... it's not really a hard rock song. No, it really isn't. That is, unless it's performed by the Light of Doom! I have to admit to laughing out loud and kind of rocking it out along with them. In a way, they so mutilated the song, but I must say they entertained me.
No, they shouldn't win. But they do seem to be taking any criticism well and are much more musically talented than I am now (or ever have been). I always wanted to do that flipping the drumsticks bit.
John thought they did great. Sheila, too. Dicko wants to market Light of Doom toys before the holiday rush is upon us.
So, there you go. The field has narrowed and two more bands go away next week. It's not as easy to predict this one, I don't think. The Muggs and Rocket were almost a shoe-in for the boot -- get it? I'm getting as loopy as Paula Abdul writing this all up! Dicko said both bands were victims of death by lead singer. Yup, that's what happened. But now we have no easy bets.
As much as I personally enjoy Cliff Wagner and The Old #7, I fear they might be gone next week. Who else?
|Light of Doom||62 (16.8%)|
|Clark Brothers||8 (2.2%)|
|Dot Dot Dot||74 (20.1%)|
|Denver & Mile High Orchestra||34 (9.2%)|
|Tres Bien||78 (21.2%)|
|Franklin Bridge||30 (8.2%)|
|Cliff Wagner & The Old #7||68 (18.5%)|